Alek Manoah finally speaks out on last year's disastrous outcome

It's a new season, and Alek Manoah is looking to close the book on his 2023 campaign.

Alek Manoah's 2024 Photo Day
Alek Manoah's 2024 Photo Day / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Baseball can be an unforgiving sport. The highs and lows can be very sporadic, and that's exactly what happened to Alek Manoah. After a great 2022 season, where he finished third in Cy Young voting, the screws came loose last year for the Florida native. In 19 starts, Manoah went 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA & 6.01 FIP. His control completely fell apart, as his walk rate doubled from 6.5% to 14.2%, resulting in not one, but two demotions over the season. It was a humbling experience for the right handed pitcher, but after taking the offseason to move past it, he's come into spring feeling determined to make an impact for the team.

Manoah has been candid about his struggles, sharing what he's learned about what to take away from the good and bad he's faced in his career. “With everything in life, you have to try and learn from the negatives and find positives from every negative,” Manoah said to Rob Longely of the Toronto Sun. “That’s something I had always done and I kind of got away from it a little bit."

It wasn't easy for Manoah to accept the outcome of last years struggles. There was nothing he wanted more than to be with the team, contributing to the playoff push, and not being able to do that took a toll on him. He stated, "I wanted to be there helping those guys. For me I was just trying to find anything I could do to get back.” Manoah had felt responsible for the Blue Jays falling short last year, having an uncertainty in the rotation, both when he was pitching for the club, as well as being sent down.

Manoah understands better what he needs to do to get back into the fold in the Jays rotation, being sure to keep his competitive edge, which is exactly what the Jays need him to be for the upcoming season. For Manoah, it's about getting back to doing the things that made him excel as a starting pitcher, which consists of knowing more about yourself physically and mentally. When asked about what's currently been working for Manoah in his off-season training, he said, "Not really having to force things, not really having to overthink the mechanics. I just feel like we’re learning so much about the body and how things need to be moving. I feel like when I make a bad pitch, it’s easy to make an adjustment because I know I have a quick cue to get back."

To help reflect on the journey he's gone through, Manoah's recalled some adversity he's faced back in his college days at West Virginia, being relegated to the bullpen. He'd went through some old footage and notes of himself to help find the motivation to get through the skid he's undergone. He knows that if he's been able to succeed before, he can do it again.

Manoah made his spring debut on Tuesday, and it did not go particularly well. He walked a batter, hit three more, and failed to strikeout a single hitter. Despite the unfortunate results, Manoah stayed confident in himself, feeling positive with his uptick in velocity that topped out at 96mph. As the spring goes on, he can focus more intently on having better command, as he prepares for the beginning of the season.

For the 2024 season, Manoah is projected to be the Jays' 5th starter. There will be some competition involved, having Bowden Francis and even Yariel Rodriguez expected to have prominent roles on the roster. Considering the chance that Manoah holds incredible upside for that role, monitoring his progress throughout the spring will be very important for both the organization, as well as the 26-year-old himself. Manoah stands out as the Jays' biggest X-factor this season, and if the work and commitment he's made after a disappointing 2023 season is legitimate, the teams ceiling is immediately raised, having five starters capable of being one of the top rotations in all of MLB.